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I am learning woodworking because I have an interest in making wooden picture frames.

I would like to learn what tools and techniques could be used to create some of the highlighted elements below.

enter image description here

A: Smooth profiles like A can be created using a router table. I know how these are made.

B: I would like to know how elements like what is highlighted in B could be made. I'm sure this could be hand carved but I don't think this was hand-carved.

C: I would also like to know how the half-ball pattern highlighted in C was made. I doubt this could be done with a router table.

Please focus any answers to a hobbyist's resources and budget if possible.

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I can't tell from this picture exactly but it is worth pointing out that this frame might not all be made of wood and wood elements (not that you were suggesting this).

The items you see in section B and C could very well be made from clay/plastic molds and then glued into place. It is possible that one of these pieces of flair to be carved by hand, to create detail, and then a rubber cast was used so that the design could be repeated. Or you can purchase the molds yourself. The one in the picture is called Gedeo Acanthus Mould used with plaster.

Image of molds

Image from HouseToHome

The paint/finish can easily hide the material difference.

I think it is likely that C is also just some length/carved molding as well.

There is a blog where he was restoring an old ornate picture frame and used dental moldings to repair broken parts. Once refinished you couldn't tell the difference.

  • Thanks for the answer. My experience with plaster is very limited. Do you happen to know if it's possible to apply the molds when they are not yet completely rigid? If you look at the corners of the frame image I provided, you can see the molds follow the curved profile of the wood (or whatever substrate it is). Is it possible to apply the molds while they are still soft so backs can conform to the curves underneath them? – user712 Jun 6 '15 at 20:36
  • @TomDworzanski I don't see that working with plaster. Other materials might be more flexible. I don't know of any personally. I would think silicone would be a good bet. – Matt Jun 8 '15 at 13:50
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B: I would like to know how elements like what is highlighted in B could be made. I'm sure this could be hand carved but I don't think this was hand-carved.

As you mentioned, this could have been hand-made but it was probably mass-produced. Decorative elements such as the one you labeled B are commonly called appliques or onlays. They can be wood, but are not necessarily wood. They can also be cast in plaster, plastic, etc.

C: I would also like to know how the half-ball pattern highlighted in C was made. I doubt this could be done with a router table.

Moldings such as the one you labeled C can also be purchased intact or made by drilling holes and gluing in round-headed plugs. You could either buy the plugs or make them yourself.

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To really understand the inner workings of this frame and all ornate style mouldings, is to start at the beginning; I too was in search of how this is done for the same reason, I desire to build my own frame styles.

1st step; learn about "Running Moulds" it is a concept of how plaster is used to create "Frame Like Designs" on Walls.

2nd step; Look at the 45* cuts from ornate frames and study the image; you see that the plaster over wood method was used. How this is done ... well I am working that out now, but not for a small budget.

3rd step; Plaster is liken to clay that hardens quickly, so "Yes" to your question; Can I use plaster then apply it to the base shape before it hardens, use a plastic wrap or 2"-clear tape over the base frame shape, to avoid adhesion to the frame, let the plaster take its shape while drying. When the plaster has set, remove it and use it as a (positive mold) (search for directions) and make others from it, or apply glue and set on frame.

PS: if you make plaster molds from templates; try letting them harden, remove from template, spray a mist of water on them, until soft to bend, lay on the curvature of your frame to reset and take on the shape.

4th step; paint as you desire.

Good Luck

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Flexible - better than plaster. I saw a show once that showed an old pro makling them himself using wood molds and a rabbit skin glue system. This place's stuff looks comparible to his:

http://www.bomardesigns.com/products.html

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